Thursday, 25 June 2009

Writing as a happening

Bill Mathews presented a paper on Autobiography and Desire, or at least that is how I remember the title. One of his remarks was about writing: writing as a great mystery, how sometimes it just emerges on its own. I thought of Osho Rajneesh's penetrating remarks about Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet, how it just emerged, and how Gibran could never quite write anything like that again. I thought of Roy, The God of Small Things, how she said it just flowed out onto her typewriter or computer or whatever, how she never went back and did any corrections. But the same thing there: she can never quite produce anything like that again. I thought of Tolkien's remark, about how his books emerged not only from his scholarship, but out of the leaf-mould of his mind.

Is all this a phenomenon akin to insight, which is a passion rather than an action, according to Aquinas? Is it that, when one understands, the expression just flows? and is there a type of understanding that is artistic, that, when it is ripe, just overflows into a torrent of words, so that it is quite true to say that a poem writes itself, a book gets written, a work of art emerges? Something like that in Heidegger's reflections on Happening? The decentering of the subject?

In Lonergan's terms: it would be under the dominance of statistical rather than classical laws. it does not happen becasue of anything that I do, but if I don't do anything, it is not going to happen either. So the reading, the scholarship, the struggle, all that is there. But, when it happens, sometimes it is a marvel, it flows, it emerges, it is born.

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